Julio Martinez

Julio Martinez

Julio pens the weekly LA STAGE Insider column for @ This Stage Magazine, as well as the monthly LA STAGE History column. He is a recurring contributor to Written By (the monthly publication of the Writer’s Guild of America) and is the TeleVision columnist for Latin Heat Entertainment. On air, he hosts the weekly Arts in Review program for KPFK 90.7 FM. An active journalist for over 30 years, Julio’s articles and reviews have appeared in Los Angeles Times Magazine, Daily Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, L.A. Weekly, Stage Raw, Backstage West, Westways Magazine, and Drama-Logue Magazine, among others.


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Barbara Beckley

The financially strapped Colony Theatre in Burbank has a hit on its hands. It’s extending The Morini Strad, which had been scheduled to close Sunday, into 2013. The extra Jan. 4-13 performances will be the Colony’s first extension of a show since 2007, when it extended Trying. And the success of The Morini Strad, starring Mariette Hartley, has ensured that the next scheduled production, I’ll Be Back Before Midnight, will open as planned on Feb 9. Last month, artistic director Barbara Beckley had cautioned that the Colony needed to raise $500,000 by Jan 1 in order to mount the Colony’s final two productions of the season in 2013. Whether the season’s final show, Falling for Make Believe, will open in late April has yet to be determined, because the company isn’t yet close to that $500,000 goal, but the Colony’s ability to confirm I’ll Be Back Before Midnight indicates progress. Even if the full amount isn’t raised, says Beckley, “Our contingency plan was always to postpone the last two productions of the season and host outside rentals while we continued our fundraising, rather than closing our doors.  The success of The Morini Strad has allowed us to put that decision off at least until after I’ll Be Back Before Midnight. I haven’t been doing this for 37 years to give up now”…Next stop for Sideways, Rex Pickett‘s stage adaptation of his novel, will be the major-league La Jolla Playhouse next July, in a production to be directed by La Jolla’s former artistic director Des McAnuff. Sideways has been a minor-league hit for Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica this year…

Kathryn Graf

PREMIERING… A plethora of Hollywood notables takes the stage in the premiere of The Snake Can by Kathryn Graf (Hermetically Sealed), starring Diane Cary, Jane Kaczmarek and Sharon Sharth as “three successful women who challenge themselves to find love and personal fulfillment in the middle years of life,” helmed by Steven Robman, opening Jan 19, a visiting production at West LA-based Odyssey Theatre. The ensemble also includes Gregory Harrison, James Lancaster and Joel Polis“¦In 2008, there was Lovelace: A Rock Musical, which made quite an impression at the Hayworth Theatre. About to thrust itself into the new year is the West Coast premiere of David Bertolino’s The Deep Throat Sex Scandal, helmed by Jerry Douglas, focusing on the making of the porn blockbuster and the controversy the film ignited, opening Jan 31 at the Zephyr Theatre in Hollywood. The eight-member ensemble features adult film performers Veronica Hart and Herschel Savage. Each week will feature different celebrity guest cast members, beginning with Sally Kirkland and Bruce Vilanch (Jan 31-Feb 6)”¦The Gambler’s Daughter, scripted by Paul North, helmed by Brian E. Smith, debuts Jan 4 at Eclectic Company Theatre in Valley Village, chronicling the dysfunctional machinations of family members who are all great with numbers but not with each other”¦Continuing its 2012-2013 subscription season, Little Tokyo-based East West Players (EWP) is debuting Eddie Borey’s Christmas in Hanoi, winner of the EWP Face of the Future Playwriting Competition. It opens Feb 6.  Helmed by Jeff Liu, the production chronicles the emotionally taut interactions of a mixed-race family retuning to Vietnam for the first time since the war”¦And Happy Face Sad Face, two one-act plays that tell the same story from opposite perspectives, scripted by R.J. Colleary, helmed by Kathleen Rubin, premieres Jan 19 at Elephant Lillian Theatre in Hollywood”¦

Derek DelGaudio and Helder Guimaräes

AROUND TOWN”¦ A jukebox tuner, Down Around Brown Town, celebrating the indefatigable soul of James Brown, created by brothers Frit and Frat Fuller, takes root at El Portal Monroe Forum Theatre in NoHo,  Dec 13-Jan 16″¦The 1999 revision of the 1967 tuner, You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown — wrought by Clark Gesner with additional lyrics by Michael Mayer and additional music and lyrics by Andrew Lipp — is having an outing in a rental production at Theatre Banshee in Burbank, helmed by Neil Dale, choreography by Janet Renslow, with musical direction by Marc Macalintal, opening Jan 18″¦Much-produced since its 2005 Off-Broadway debut, Stephen Adly GuirgisThe Last Days of Judas Iscariot is being mounted by thesp Dee Smith, helmed by Patrick Riviere, opening Mar 1 at Victory Theatre in Burbank”¦ Also focusing on the trials of a historically controversial figure, Olio Theatre WorksIntimately Wilde, helmed by Gigi Fusco Meese — “exploring contemporary issues concerning art, equality and sexual politics through the unique lens of England’s Victorian age” — opens Jan 12 at Long Beach Playhouse”¦It takes a lot of talent to produce quickie stage fare. No fewer than 34 actors, writers and directors are lending their skills to Rogue Machine’s latest Around the Clock Play Festival, featuring works that are scripted, helmed and staged within 24 hours, opening and closing on Dec 15…Brimmer Street Theatre Company’s fifth annual Blueprint Series is accepting submissions, with a deadline of Jan 11. Blueprint provides opportunities for playwrights to work with the BSTC ensemble, in collaboration with other artists, to develop new projects. Applications for the 2013 Blueprint series may be downloaded at www.brimmerstreet.org/blueprint/“¦

EXTENDED: The Last Romance, scripted by Joe DiPietro, helmed by James Paradise, is lasting until Dec 23 at Theatre 40’s Reuben Cordova Theatre, on the campus of Beverly Hills High”¦“Due to unprecedented single ticket sales,” Nothing to Hide, featuring sleight-of-hand artists Derek DelGaudio and Helder Guimaräes, helmed by thesp Neil Patrick Harris, is reaching out through Jan 20 at Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at Geffen Playhouse in Westwood”¦

Kongit Farrell

THE THING IS… “I’m a mental health therapist; I’m an actress; I’m a writer.  I get bored, so I do a lot of things. What can I say?  I’m always dedicated to figuring out projects that are positive, uplifting, fun. This theater group is my baby. As a young actress in Hollywood I always felt misunderstood because I didn’t have roles that I could connect to, that didn’t really show off what I could do. So, I wrote this play with two of my actress friends who said, “˜We’ll do it.’ From there I just met this crop of super-talented young actors of color.  When we originally produced this show, it sold out every performance. Everyone was saying, “˜Why don’t you form a theater company and make it official.’  Our aim is to showcase the writing of young talent. I’m not even going to say “˜of color.’ If you’re a good writer, you have an interesting perspective and you’re writing from the heart, I’m interested. That is what the theater company came together to do — to perform these projects that the mainstream would overlook. Our overarching goal is artistic integrity. The other thing that we are doing with the theater company is the community initiative, doing good heart-and-soul work. Wherever people need some cheering up, we’re going to bring some poetry, some monologues, some happiness to our world. With the economic situation as it is, a lot of schools are cutting their arts initiatives. It you cut arts, you’re cutting humanity. And we’re not going to let that happen.”  – Kongit Farrell and iEvolve Productions presents Farrell’s Landing of the Urban Rebels 2012, “a series of vignettes that offer a unique look into today’s African-American culture” – at The Complex Hollywood’s Flight Theatre, opening Dec 13

Theatre Workers Project

INSIDE LA STAGE HISTORY”¦ In 1982, 2000 steelworkers lose their jobs when Bethlehem Steel shuts down its Vernon mill. In 1986, six of these unemployed workers are performing in a play, Lady Beth, chronicling how the lives of these victims of economic change are being affected, fashioned as a stagework by thesp Susan Franklin Tanner and TheatreWorkers Project (TWP), which Tanner founds in 1983, originally housed at Steelworkers Local 1845 union hall.  Local public TV outlet KCET’s weekly California Stories series chronicles the Project’s process of fashioning the feelings and words of the steelworkers into a dramatic reading that is staged in LA and subsequently taken to 16 other US cities, co-sponsored by Bruce Springsteen, and primarily performing for workers’ organizations.  In the ensuing years, Tanner — a UC Riverside graduate in theater — enjoys success as an actress/director/playwright/teacher on many stages, including Living Stage Company/Arena Theatre, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Mark Taper Forum and LATC. TWP is an ongoing entity, creating “documentary theater” that spotlights peoples’ lives onstage, including Sela (1987), in which residents of the community talk of living and working in Southeast LA; Steel-Blue Water:  The Shipbuilder’s Play (1989), performed at various union halls; and Fronteras (1990), a 40-minute bilingual excursion into the woes faced by immigrants from south of the US border, produced at LATC. TWP also develops works that spotlight meatpackers, critical care nurses and longshoremen. In September 1988, TWP spearheads a two-day conference, A Day’s Pay for a Day’s Art, at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design, encouraging artists of all disciplines to become more active in shaping public policies affecting their careers. In Sep 1990, Tanner finds the time to stage her own, autobiographically-inspired, Journey to Singapore: The Infertility Play, at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica. As an educator, Tanner holds teacher artists positions at several facilities, including LA County High School for the Arts, Mark Taper Forum Saturday Conservatory, LACC Theatre Academy and more. TWP now focuses on youth programs, including Will Play Summer Theatre, produced in partnership with Shakespeare Center/LA. Tanner is a 2011 CTG Chase Educators Fellow and a 2011 Bravo Award winner”¦

Julio Martinez produced and hosted Arts in Review, celebrating the best in LA-area theater and cabaret, airs Fridays (2 to 2:30 pm), on KPFK Radio (90.7FM).